5 Ways to Get Support for Your Social Business

Courage and a healthy disregard for the word “impossible” are the fuel of dreamers and idea creators. But once you’ve conjured up that 100 million dollar idea, how do you get to the crucial part… resources? While getting funding and building a clientele list that can support your idea, that investment capital will be instrumental in whether you toss that idea onto the pile of experience or take that idea all the way to the bank.

Naturally, seeking out venture capital firms, crowdsourcing and dipping into your savings to keep your business or organization afloat are all ways to finance that next business venture. However, investment capital often extends beyond how much cash you’ve got behind you. Listed below are just a handful of places to get the resources you need to grow beyond your favorite dreaming chair.

1. The TED Fellows Program

Known for the quickest way to learn something new, interesting, or enlightening, the masterminds behind TED offer a fellowship program that grants selectees exclusive access to the visionaries that keep TED relevant and rich.

Photo courtesy: TED
Photo courtesy: TED

2. Ashoka Fellows

Leading the development of social entrepreneurship, Ashoka provides the social impact community with a variety of resources. Among them is the Ashoka Fellowship program that, after a rigorous selection process, provides a stipend to truly innovative changemakers to help them focus entirely on bringing their idea to fruition.

Photo: Ashoka Foundation
Photo: Ashoka Foundation

 

3. SOCAP Conference

Hosted on an annual basis in San Francisco, California, the purpose driven conference brings together the greatest minds in social business. With an impressive list of attendees and speakers, SOCAP will expand your network and maybe feed that insatiable dream machine that’s leading the development of your company.

Photo: SOCAP 2015
Photo: SOCAP 2015

4. The Grameen Creative Lab

Known by it’s initial mission of eradicating poverty through microfinance, the Grameen Creative Lab is leading the way to formalize the social business sector by building awareness, investing resources in social businesses, and providing guidance for those who are looking to make their business social.

Photo: Grameen Creative Lab
Photo: Grameen Creative Lab

5. USAID Global Development Lab

Responding to the rapidly changing needs of the developing world, USAID recently launched the Global Development Lab to harness the creativity of social innovators to address the needs their field teams are facing. Pick a focus area on their needs list and submit your idea on how to solve their global problem.

Photo: USAID Global Development Lab
Photo: USAID Global Development Lab

 

This is by no mean an exhaustive list. If your favorite resource is not listed above, leave a note in the comments below so we can incorporate them into the next resource list. Disagree with any of the listed resources? Tell us why in the comments below.

 

How to Break into the Media Biz, Nicely.

I remember being in front of the camera one day saying to myself “I’m a smart guy, I think I can learn how to do all of this.” So I did. – Carson Nicely

 

Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely. Behind the camera.
Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

I first met millennial entrepreneur, Carson Nicely, when he was studying Psychology at Rollins.  Born in Michigan, but came of age in Knoxville, Tennessee, Carson Nicely has been developing his career in the media world since before he graduated. Since I last saw him, Carson has lived in New York, Miami, Dallas, Nashville until he finally starting Nicely Made Media, a content media company  in Los Angeles.

How did you get into modeling/acting/photography?

In college, I was on the varsity swim team for Rollins. During a practice, one of my teammates told me there were Abercrombie & Fitch recruiters wanting to talk to me. I thought they were joking, so I dove into the pool to start swimming. It wasn’t until a few laps later when I looked over and saw a man and a woman in their late 20s wearing all A&F that I believed them. I ended up getting out of the pool and talking to them, which led to me being in 3 campaigns for Abercrombie over the next 3 years. After college when I lived in Nashville, I found an interest in acting where I would eventually be cast for over 20 music videos – mostly country. It was when I moved to Dallas that I started working behind the camera as a photographer. I remember being in front of the camera one day saying to myself “I’m a smart guy, I think I can learn how to do all of this.” So I did. I took it upon myself to study every resource I could whether it was an online YouTube video or meeting with professionals in the region to discuss their work flow.

What has been the greatest challenge in starting Nicely Made?

Courtesy of Carson Nicely.
Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

The hardest part of starting Nicely Made Media has been finding clients that trust my abilities. Even though I have credible work and examples to show them, I haven’t had the long running track record or any famous names to put behind my brand, yet. It’s getting easier the more established I am, but it will always be an uphill battle.

What has been the greatest success?

The greatest success for Nicely Made Media has been working with small business owners to create their online web content that they never would have been able to do before. In the past – they never would have never been able to create a quality video for their website or yelp web page. I’m happy to say we offer an affordable option that can fit all of their needs into a package that can also fit in their wallet.

Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely.
Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

What is the greatest concern you have for the Millennial Generation?

One of the largest concerns I have for the millennial generation is we are unlikely to have a better standard of living than our parents. With high levels of unemployment coupled with crippling financial costs for schooling, it leaves the millennial generation at a loss, even when working as hard as possible. The millennial generation thrives on change and innovative technology, but resents the baby boomer generation for their lack of interest or dedication to understanding this. This leaves a gap in the work force between newly recruited employees (millennial generation) and their bosses (baby boomers) which can hurt the bottom line of a company. Millennials believe success and upward mobility should be based upon knowledge and not seniority or time.

What is your greatest hope for the Millennial Generation?

With this being said – I believe the millennial generation has a lot going for it. They truly understand that a single voice can determine change, as can be seen throughout the social media outlets of today. With regards to business, they are not afraid to try out new ventures on their own despite the large risks of doing so. With this type of risk come many failures, but from these failures, new ideas are created and refined to a point where amazing products, services, and companies have emerged. A millennial may not have the same position in a company for more than 2 years, but they are interested in gaining upward mobility as quickly as possible. They would like to see their boss more as a mentor or friend, instead of someone who pushes papers onto their desk and says “do it”. While the unemployment rate of millennials is quite high – they are the most optimistic of any generation.

Courtesy of Carson Nicely.
Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

What is your advice for anyone looking to start a company like yours?

My biggest piece of advice would be to gain insight from anyone you can. Talk to the professionals in the industry, set up meetings, work an internship…etc. Literally everyone will have some opinion on what you can do better or worse, and you should take all of it into account before setting out on your own to create something. You may not agree with everything they have to say, but you should be able to learn something from everyone you talk to whether it’s a peer from college or a CEO of a fortune 500 company.

To connect with Carson check out Nicely Made Media on Twitter @CarsonNicely, Instagram @CarsonNicely, and Facebook.

 

Saving the World One Massage at a Time

“I feel fortunate to be able to unite both of my passions into my dream job and my business.” – Felix Estevez
Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez of FeelXtra
Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez of FeelXtra

As a millennial, finding your professional path is an overwhelming experience filled with self doubt and cues from competitive parents. For many, that experience follows the basic formula of graduate high school, get into an excellent college, graduate again and get an excellent job so you can join the successful people table. While many of us try to pursue that plan, others know that true happiness comes by  following their gut to take a slightly different path.

Meet Felix Estevez, a Founding Partner and current Client Relations Manager at FeelXtra Mobile Spa, Orlando’s leading mobile massage therapy company. With a team of about 15 to 20 therapists and technicians, FeelXtra brings the power of massage to any location in the Orlando area. Established in 2011, Felix has grown the company from running it by his self and his girlfriend to firmly gaining a place in Orlando’s small business community.

As a young boy, Felix started selling candy in middle school as well as customized t-shirts. Learning how to hustle allowed him to learn the persistence needed when becoming an entrepreneur. Then, in high school, Felix discovered he had the power of healing when he used to ease his sister’s severe back pain with  massage.

After he graduated high school, he tried community college for a few semesters. He knew almost immediately that he wasn’t going to get what he really wanted from a regular community college.  Instead he left pursue a career as a therapist at the Florida College of Natural Health . Before he even graduated Felix had already had a good sized clientele list and a variety of offer from several companies.

Felix and his girlfriend. Photo courtesy of Felix Estevez.
Felix and his girlfriend. Photo courtesy of Felix Estevez.

While at first he enjoyed the stability, it was during his first time travel to Colombia in 2011 that he realized that he was missing something in his work at home, something many millennials can relate to. It was then that he realized that he was ready to launch his own business. With the economy in the tank, starting a mobile massage business was extremely tough. Luckily for Felix, his girlfriend believed in his business and the two established FeelXtra.

At first, Felix spent a year trying to get FeelXtra into the Orlando malls. But during that time, Felix started researching ways to overcome this setback through business building tips and becoming an industry expert. In his research he discovered that the greatest challenges faced by customers was getting to their appointments. It was then that Felix decided to switch his business model and go mobile. As FeelXtra refined their model, they landed their first big client: a conference hosted in Orlando where 20,000  participants could get massages, mani/pedis and facials. It was a significant challenge that proved to Felix and his team, that FeelXtra as on the right track.

Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez.
Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez.

Since then, Felix has graduated from Valencia and moved on to getting his business degree from University of Central Florida.  Finding value in all the resources available to student entrepreneurs, and is living proof of the Grant Cordone’s Ten X Rule: When opportunity meets hard work you have to be prepared when that opportunity comes up you are ready for it. That kind of commitment to hard work is a quality Felix sometimes struggles to find among his peers. He often worries that they have given up on pursuing their dreams. On the other hand, he notices that there is a community of Millennials who are rabidly pursuing their dreams and doing whatever they deem necessary to get where they want to go. Seeing his peers at UCF showcase their companies and accomplishments affirm to Felix that millennials are on track to becoming the next great generation.

To contact Felix and the FeelXtra team check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instragam @feelxtra_ and join their community.

Enamoured with Millennial Fashion Designer, June Cruz

Enamour Denim Dress from the most recent collection.
Enamour Denim Dress from the most recent collection.

For most people, science and art are two career paths that should never intertwine. But, millennial fashion designer,  June Cruz it was her love of science that led her to her current business venture.

June always wanted to be a marine biologist. All through high school she spent her time learning all should could to become a researcher of the animals who exist just below the ocean’s surface. But her ever present creative side demanded her attention in college where she went on to also major in Fine Arts. Within her Fine Arts study, June dove into mixed media and learning how to bring textures and colors together to share a story. Never dreaming that her two passions would come together, it was through an internship at Baltimore Medical Center that allowed June to invest in her two passions; through producing anatomical drawings of the human body.

Now, while this may have been a dream come true, graduation was fast approaching and June had to choose: chase the dream or be practical and find a stable way to pay the bills? After her college years, June chose the practical path and started teaching Art.

Models Backstage Photo credit: Enamour Clothing
Models Backstage
Photo credit: Enamour Clothing

Although she loved her students, she often felt frustrated with the politics and felt that she just wasn’t at her best. It was only when she was designing clothes that she felt happiest and most confident. After a lot of deliberation, and some nudging from her now husband, June decided to get her design degree in a part time program.

Successfully balancing work and school, June was thrilled to receive several offers to work with larger design houses upon her graduation. Having always made the practical choice, she decided to finally go on her own and in October 2010, she started her own brand: Enamour. Since then, she has learned a whole host of lessons and refined her designs as well as her business savvy.

Her greatest lesson has been to enjoy and celebrate all of the little successes, “they are what keep you going.”  Recently, for June those successes came in the form of being featured in Style Week in Rhode Island, and having one of her creations at the Grammy’s. But June is quick to point to the importance of celebrating every success along the way.

The Grammy Dress from Enamour Clothing
The Grammy Dress
from Enamour Clothing

But with successes, come… growth opportunities. June’s first growth opportunity happened when she started getting orders for her first independent collection.  At the time, June didn’t know about how to go about buying her fabric in bulk. She was so excited about creating 12 perfect looks that when it came time to sell, four or five could not be replicated. Either the fabric was sold out or too expensive to scale. With her heart in her throat, she had to go back to those customers, explain what happened and deal with the consequences. Losing some customers and taking a couple hits to her reputation, June chose to learn from the experience. Now her designs are centered on the availability of fabrics to ensure she can deliver cost effective fashions, while building  credibility with her customers.

June and her daughter at a fitting.
June and her daughter at a fitting.

Looking past the cringe worthy experience, June takes pride in her successes. Her most significant has been starting a company in this economic climate. June now advocates that while starting a business isn’t easy, it’s completely doable. Knowing your market and connecting to your community are crucial for building your business. Making face time with her community a priority, June regularly volunteers for local organizations. Staying people centric has allowed June to focus on identifying who is her customer and finding those customers.

After going through this experience, June grows increasingly concerned about her fellow millennials. Will developing their passion projects on the side be enough, or will it negatively impact their desire to invest in their whole community? At a time when communities are defined by how many neighbors you can trust, June hopes that her daughter has a future where communities blossoming from the investments of it’s citizens, rather than decay from fear.

To learn more about the June and her brand Enamour, check out her site here and her Facebook here.